The Truth About Serving The Church
In Acts 20:28 (the Scripture I preached from yesterday), the Apostle Paul said the following: "Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood."
Sometimes we need to be reminded that God allows us to serve, and to be a part of the ongoing Story of how God is saving the world--not necessarily because he needs us but because he wants us to be a part of it.
It was my last official day as the pastor of the church I've been serving for the past eight years, and the end of a long week of "lasts" and goodbyes. I have been overwhelmed by the touching things that people shared with my wife and I about how our ministry had a positive impact on their lives.
One of the things that made parting yesterday bittersweet is the way so many people in our new congregation have expressed their prayers and well wishes to the congregation we are leaving. In return, my now former church is sending a letter of greeting and well-wishes from her members and friends to the members and friends of my new church.
It's these kinds of things that have made this whole process so amazing. It gives me such hope at how beautiful church can be, and how humbling it is to serve the Church (with a capital "C") in all her infinite variety.
Over the past two weeks I baptized four people (including one adult and a middle schooler), had seven people join the church I'm leaving (even though they knew I was leaving) and ordained and installed three new elders.
As I gave the announcements yesterday at one of the worship services, I was sharing news on events and programs I'd attended for years that are now going to happen without me.
At the end of the service, I asked the congregation, "Hey, guess what's happening next week?" They looked at me expectantly. "Church," I told them.
As I write this, I am humbled by the thought that in less than two weeks I'll be standing before a new congregation, in a new city, delivering my first sermon. We already have events on our family calendar that we'll be attending in just a little over a week. I've been getting emails about meetings I plan to attend, a leadership retreat after the first of the year and much more.
It's pretty exciting to be taking on new challenges, embracing a new family of faith, exploring a new city, hearing new stories, beginning a new journey...
But it's also very humbling and comforting to know that I am just one small part of the whole story that is being written by the One who knows how the story ends. It's a privilege to be of service, and an honor to serve the Church, the Body of Christ--wherever I happen to be called.
And to be constantly reminded that the Church is God's, not mine.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.